Help Fight Global AIDS

Numerous volunteer vacation programs let you lend a hand to people with HIV in the developing world.

The lengthy problems relating to HIV in the world’s poor countries – the lack of affordable drugs, the crippling of nations’ workforces, the creation of orphan generations – have been on the tips of tongues from Blair to Bono but what can us as travelers do about them?

“International solidarity,” says gay South African activist Zackie Achmat, “should not be limited to demonstrations against Bush and (drug) profiteering.”

For adventurers seeking heightened intimacy and meaning in the global fight against HIV, short – and long-term volunteer vacations are the answer, combining the idealism of the Peace Corps and the human drama of a reality show.

Combating the pandemic ravaging the world is not for the fainthearted, though, as emotional challenges are par for the course – in hospice and health care work, the suffering and death of some patients are to be expected.

The autonomy, openness, and respect are key to stemming this global epidemic (and to volunteering period,) but gays and lesbians are not always welcome in the given country of an AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) trip, so ask the organization directly about it.

According to one volunteer,”A lot of gay people are drawn to this kind of work.”

One organization is Cross-Cultural Solutions which may take you to a clinic in Peru, for example, to help out. They may be reached at 800-380-4777. There you can travel abroad and experience culture like never before while working side-by-side with locals. You choose from nearly 200 start dates with a length of stay form 1-12 weeks and ten countries. Cross-Cultural was founded in 1995 and has no religious or political ties. It is one of the largest international volunteer-sending organizations in the U.S. and a recognized leader in its field.

Global Services Corps’ number is 415-788-3666 #128. You can volunteer, work, or intern abroad with a generous host family. Global is a non-profit international organization working with developing countries and personalizing each participant’s experience. You get in-depth training and in-country coordinators at your disposal as well as rewarding hands-on challenges. There are also hosted weekend excursions. In Tanzania, for example, you work on a service project raise awareness of HIV and AIDS or teach people methods of sustainable agriculture. Global is a project of Earth Island Institute.

The Treatment Action Coalition may be called at 011-27-21-788-3507.

You can contact the International Volunteer Program at 510-433-0414 or i-to-iVentures at 800-985-4864.

The U.N. Volunteers Programme number is 011-49-228-815-2000. In Georgetown, Guyana, nine volunteer doctors recently made history when they joined the fight against HIV and AIDS. This is the first time anywhere in the world that U.S. volunteer doctors have been recruited en masse specifically to work in an HIV/AIDS care and treatment program. The doctors are expected to extend the national capability to provide care, treatment, and support for HIV-infected adults and children with their Guyanese counterparts.

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